The holiday season can really inspire people to be kinder, more joyous, and more generous to those in need.
But the truth is, no matter what holidays you celebrate or don’t celebrate, it’s always a good time to help others. Earlier this year, we compiled a list of resources for and ways that you can help Cast Members in need in light of the recent furloughs and layoffs. We also shared other ways that you could help others, like by purchasing some of Disney’s Wishes Come True Blue collection to benefit Make-A-Wish.
Now, we’re compiling a list of some fantastic organizations that you can donate to or purchase from to help kids, Cast Members, and more.
We here at DFB know that the pandemic has been difficult for so many people. So, while we’re compiling this list, we’re keenly aware that some of you may not have the resources at this time to donate any money at all. This is not meant to be a list to pressure anyone into donating or make anyone feel guilty that they can’t donate.
Even if you can’t donate any funds to these organizations, you can help in so many other ways like by sharing this post with others who can donate, or just by giving your time and energy to others — whether it’s your own family or local community — to promote happiness and joy. That could mean opening a door for someone else, checking in on a friend who may be spending the holidays alone, or spending some time with elderly family members via Zoom.
And even if you are inclined and have the resources to give back to others with your money, this list is not all-inclusive. There are many great organizations out there helping people, pets, wild animals, and more. This list is just a small sampling of some of those awesome organizations that we wanted to share with you! Alright, let’s dive in!
1. Give Kids the World Village
Recently, we visited the Night of a Million Lights event at the Give Kids the World Village and it was absolutely gorgeous and such a great way to give back to this organization. If you’re unfamiliar with this group, Give Kids the World Village is a large nonprofit resort that provides week-long, cost-free vacations to critically ill children and their families. There are accessible attractions and so much for families to enjoy there. Since 1986, Give Kids the World Village has welcomed more than 176,000 families.
Due to the pandemic, the Give Kids the World Village has been closed since March, but they are getting ready to welcome families one day in the future, once it’s safe to do so.
The Night of a Million Lights event is meant to raise funds for future wish-granting once the Give Kids the World Village can reopen. If you’d like to help make future wish kids’ stays at this resort possible, you can visit the Night of a Million Lights event at the village in Orlando while it lasts through January 3rd. You can learn more about it and purchase your tickets by visiting the Give Kids the World Village website.
You can also make a financial or in-kind donation, or even sign up to volunteer your time to help Give Kids the World Village in their events. See more on how to help by visiting their website.
The next organization we want to highlight is Make-A-Wish, which has a long history with The Walt Disney Company. Make-A-Wish’s mission is to create life-changing wishes for children diagnosed with critical illnesses. In the U.S., a wish is actually granted every 34 minutes. There are a few days in which you can help the Make-A-Wish foundation. First, you can donate to the organization directly by visiting their website.
You can also purchase the Disney Parks Wishables: Magic Carpets of Aladdin series as 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Make-A-Wish.
Additionally, for every Mickey Mouse Vintage Holiday Plush sold through January 31, 2021, Disney will be donating 25% of the purchase price to Make-A-Wish.
You can grab this plush on shopDisney right now to help this great cause.
3. Cast Member Pantry
Looking for a way to help Cast Members in need specifically? We’ve got a couple of options there as well. First, you could consider giving to the Cast Member Pantry, which now serves Cast Members in Orlando and California. The program provides Cast Members in need with a reusable grocery bag filled with foods to make meals for 4, with breakfast and snack options as well, once a month.
Want to help this organization? You can scroll through their Amazon wishlist where you’ll be able to purchase Visa gift cards, Amazon gift cards, and other things that will be donated to Cast Members. You can also send the group a donation via Venmo (@castmemberpantry) or visit their Facebook page for more information.
You can also consider donating to Castgiving, which is an organization that helps Cast Members and their families. You can nominate a Cast Member in need or nominate yourself. During Thanksgiving, the organization worked to provide Thanksgiving Day Baskets full of grocery essentials. The organization is working to help Cast Members even more during this holiday season.
Due to the global pandemic, the group will no longer be accepting physical food or food basket donations, but is accepting donations and gift cards. If you want to help, you can donate via Venmo (@CastGiving2020) or PayPal (@CastGiving), or you can purchase some items from their Amazon Wish List, which include lots of gift cards to be provided to Cast Members in need.
5. Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank works to provide food to thousands of hungry children, seniors, and families every month. There is a Second Harvest Food Bank that benefits Orange County, California (where Disneyland is located and where many impacted Cast Members may also be located). And there is a Second Harvest Food Bank that benefits Central Florida (where Disney World and many of its current or former Cast Members are located). Both organizations partner with local partners to supply food to those in need.
You can visit both of these organizations’ websites to see how you can give in a variety of ways including financial donations and even by using AmazonSmile when you shop to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank.
6. WDW Cast Member and Hospitality Pets in Need
We can’t forget that those in need may also need some assistance caring for their loving pets. Cast Members and hospitality workers with pets can visit the WDW Cast Member and Hospitality Pets in Need group on Facebook to ask for food or supplies. Others can also join the group and offer pet food or supplies that they do not have use for any more to others who may need them.
The group administrator will also post in the group about the pet food needs of a particular family and members can post about their own needs. If you join the group, you can respond to these requests and contribute or help. You can also purchase Chewy gift cards for the organization and have it sent to their email, which they note is helpful for assisting families who need specialty foods. You can also reach out to the group to ask about what their current specific needs may be so you can best help — their email is: [email protected].
7. Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando
The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando works to educate, shelter, place, and heal pets and their families. They also run a Pet Food Pantry for families who need it. You can make a financial donation to the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando overall by visiting their website, or you can donate to their pet food pantry specifically by dropping off food or ordering the food online and having it shipped to the organization directly. They also have wish lists that you can buy from to get the pets specific items that they need.
Learn more by visiting the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando — Pet Food Pantry website. Cast Members in need can access this resource to help their pets during this difficult time.
8. Toys for Tots
Looking to give to children in need? Then you can consider donating to Toys for Tots. This organization collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them to the less fortunate children at Christmas.
You can help this organization in many ways including by giving a financial donation on their website. You can also donate a physical, unwrapped toy to a Toys for Tots collection box, which can be found in many locations. Right now through December 13th, for every new, unwrapped toy donated at a Disney Store in the U.S. or through shopDisney, Disney will donate $1 to Toys for Tots. That can help add even more magic to your donation.
Disney is also donating $1 to Toys for Tots for every Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Gingerbread pin purchased at a U.S. Disney store or on shopDisney right now through December 24th, 2020.
9. Salvation Army
Another organization that you may want to consider donating to is the Salvation Army, which works in 130 countries around the world, and assists approximately 23 million Americans annually. The organization offers disaster relief services, help for domestic abuse, services for the aging, and much more.
You can visit the Salvation Army website to donate money or buy gifts from the angel tree registry.
10. American Red Cross
Another organization you can donate to is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross works in various areas including disaster relief, providing lifesaving blood, and more.
Disney is actually an American Red Cross supporter, and you can learn more about their long-standing relationship here. You can donate to the American Red Cross, and see other ways that you can help, by going to their website.
11. Disney Conservation Fund
If you’ve been to the Disney parks (especially Disney’s Animal Kingdom) you’ve probably seen buttons or other things referencing the Disney Conservation Fund. The Fund is committed to protecting wildlife around the world and donates to support nonprofit organizations working to save wildlife, inspire action, and protect the planet.
To donate to the Conservation Fund, you can either visit one of the spots in the parks, or send a check to the organization. Find out more here.
12. Points of Light Volunteer Opportunities
If you’re looking to volunteer your time, you can go online to Points of Light and search through thousands of volunteer opportunities — some of which you can do remotely.
13. Buy from Cast Member-Owned Businesses
There are also LOTS of Cast Members, current and former, who have their own businesses which you can purchase from. We’re talking stickers, jewelry, clothing, masks, art, and so much more! You’re sure to find some unique items on that list that will be perfect holiday gifts for yourself or your family and friends, and you’ll get to help out a Cast Member while doing it!
There’s an entire spreadsheet of Cast Member businesses that Jessica and Ashleigh of The Theme Parkettes Podcast put together, so that’s a great resource to turn to.
You can also check out the Ear for Each Other Facebook group which works to support Cast Members. Specifically, furloughed and laid off Cast Members can share their “side hustle” and others can then buy from those Cast Members or hire them to do work for them.
Want some cool magnets or maybe even amazing character-inspired candy apples made by a former Main Street Confectionary Cast Member? That’s the place where you’ll find it all!
14. The Actors Fund
Finally, the Disney layoffs have also affected many of our beloved performers in Disney World, and the pandemic has hit Broadway performers hard as well (including those from Disney on Broadway). If you’re looking to help those performers, you may want to donate to The Actors Fund, which offers support groups, education, emergency financial assistance, and help to those who work in entertainment and the performing arts, as well as career counseling, employment training, and much more.
You can visit The Actors Fund website to donate.
15. The TwELF Days of Christmas
If you’re in the Central Florida area, you can also help members of the arts community in need by visiting The TwELF Days of Christmas drive-thru experience. St. Luke’s United Methodist Church has teamed up with We Bring The Funny to create a socially distanced event where you drive alongside North Pole Elves “on a journey to create the greatest gift for Orlando.” It’s got holiday lights, live music, comedic vignettes from local actors including several Disney actors who have lost their jobs due to the layoffs, and more!
The TwELF Days of Christmas is available select nights from December 11th-13th, and December 18th-20th from 6:30PM to 9:00PM. The event is actually FREE, but you can take that opportunity to donate to the Church’s services helping the local arts community. St. Luke’s United Methodist Church has teamed up with Cheers Bar and Restaurant to offer free food via weekly drive-thru distributions for artists and entertainment industry professionals impacted by this difficult time. This food is available to anyone in the arts community, including musicians, costumers, designers, characters, entertainment management, and more. You can donate to their efforts in helping the Central Florida arts community by visiting their website or giving a donation when you visit The TwELF Days of Christmas event.
That’s just a small grouping of the many organizations out there helping Cast Members, kids, and others in need. We’ll update this post if we find any specific additional groups we want to highlight. We hope that no matter what your financial situation may be, what holidays you celebrate, and where you find yourself this year, that this holiday season will bring you lots of joy, love, and hopefully a little bit of magic. And, if you can, we hope that you’ll be inspired to create some magic (in whatever way you can) for others.
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Let us know what special ways you’ll be making some magic for others this holiday season in the comments below!